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  • Writer's pictureMarie Robertson-King

Six tips to help reduce digital distractions

Updated: May 1, 2021

As we continue to work remotely, even the most organised of us are starting to lose our focus! There might be partners still working from home, washing to do, the dog to walk and lots of other distractions!

So when it comes times to focus and get on with some heavy work; here are a few things you can do to help.

1. Control your notifications

Chances are you don’t need to receive a ping every time your mum likes a Facebook post or every time you receive an email. Turning off notifications breaks the “always-on” mindset that tells us we constantly need to be available. I would suggest turning off all but the most critical notifications. You’ll find yourself less distracted and stressed by notifications.

2. Take regular breaks

Doesn’t sound right does it? But, research has shown that taking small breaks during the day actually improves your productivity. The trick is making sure your quick coffee break doesn’t turn into an entire afternoon watching Netflix or scrolling TikTok. To keep yourself accountable, set aside specific times for activities like checking the news or scrolling through social feeds. When the time ends, close any apps or browser windows you opened and get back to work.

3. Try a change of scenery

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to concentrate on your work, you just can’t seem to focus! In this case, try a change of scenery. Psychologists have found that putting yourself in a new environment, even if it’s the next room or out on the patio, can help reset your brain. Most of our work tools these days work anywhere so we don’t need to sit at our desks to be productive. Don’t be afraid to go mobile and get the creative juices flowing.

4. Create email filters and rules

Most of us receive at least a few emails a day that we should have already opted out of. These messages fill our email inbox and make it harder to find important or time-sensitive emails. To keep your inbox streamlined, create filters to sort through what you need to see now versus what can wait until later.

5. Use Do Not Disturb

Lots of online tools now include a do not disturb function; Gmail and Asana come to the top of mind for me. Consider using it when you have a fixed deadline and you must concentrate for a set period of time. If you find yourself worrying that you’re missing something important you can always switch it off for a quick check-in.

6. Reduce your productivity tools

We use an average of 10 applications to collaborate on work. Some of these tools are essential, but others are just overkill. Have a look at all your productivity tools at least once a year to make sure you’re still getting value from them. You might be surprised by the amount of crossover that exists between tools like file storage, project management, CRM, email marketing etc. Reducing them will not only save you hours of time spent toggling between systems but will also save you money in the long run.

As with any new habit, these tips will take time to stick. Don’t get discouraged if you slip up and find yourself down another rabbit hole of cute puppy videos; we’ve all been there!




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Marie is a Virtual Assistant based in Perth

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